Through the ELADIN project we envisioned a “golden thread of leadership” weaving different contexts and communities with values and practices that support and nurture ourselves and others around us. Leadership, we discovered, is not an individual process, but instead is developed through building a community of practice (COP). In building this Community of Practice we met regularly (nearly weekly for over 9 months) to discuss our ideas, needs, identities, challenges and values that are bound up in our work. This reflexive exploration sought not only to improve our own leadership practices in the various spaces we lead, but also intended to contribute to the international leadership discourses around value-based leadership through the CELL . We read and discussed critical consciousness and critical pedagogies and their meaning to our work and to ELADIN.
It is from these emerging lessons within the ELADIN Community of Practice (CoP) that we sought to understand and propose a contemporary value-based leadership framework informed by the convergence of our leadership praxes. Contemporary in this context means that we will explore our current or present-day leadership praxes with an understanding of existing local and global leadership discourses. The CoP encourages, develops, and demonstrates complementary reciprocal forms of support for ourselves and the various stakeholder-communities we engage with as part of the project. Therefore, we consciously strive to establish relationships nurtured through convergence and conscious reciprocity geared towards co-constructed and agreed-to outputs, which would benefit all involved in the project.
In exploring the education pipeline and building reciprocity with the community, we actively engaged with both primary and secondary stakeholder-communities to help clarify the issues related to contemporary value-based leadership. This learning with others in practice through valuing, recognizing, and acknowledging their inputs, we deem as essential to the co-creation of the value-based leadership framework (VBF) The drawing together of these stakeholder-communities that consciously recognise the voice and agency of all involved in the engagement. Through this form of convergence, we endeavored to enable reciprocity that sincerely seeks to exchange co-created knowledge and resources through the principles of generosity, solidarity, co-creation, responsiveness, and inclusion for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders involved in ELADIN.
We understand generosity as espoused by Paulo Freire (2005) not to be the generosity of paternalism, but humanist generosity that is for the pursuit of full humanity for us and others with whom we engage. We remain mindful that knowledge, including leadership knowledge, is best derived from an authentic process of learning with others in practice; that it embraces the uncertainty embedded in ‘not knowing’; and is supportive of multiple forms of knowledge outputs to drive social inclusion and cohesion. It is a reflective, reciprocal and an iterative process that is courageous in that the participants in the community of practice become vulnerable as they open themselves up to scrutiny. To explore their values, they use convergence as a methodology that will assist them to co-create a contemporary value-based leadership framework.
According to Garg and Krishnan (2003:6-7), the ultimate goal of value-based leadership is social change, and therefore as leaders in this pipeline, our shared values include the convergence of our agency in the CoP. We derive our understanding of a CoP from the work of Lave and Wenger (1991, 1998, 2002) that this community of practice will allow for interactions between leaders with the intention to engender personal and professional growth and ultimately improving our wider school/university/community. In these especially challenging times ELADIN is importantly perceived as an evolving site of possibility in the pursuit of holistic leadership development by developing personal, relational, and collective hope.